AMMAN — It’s been a long time coming, but the recently introduced JX35 model is Japanese prestige car maker Infiniti throwing their hat in the lucrative mid to large family crossover SUV ring. A front-wheel-drive 7-seat crossover with only one engine and gearbox option at launch, Infiniti sees the JX35 as a way to break into a previously untapped market in which many of its Japanese and German rivals are well represented. While in past Infiniti have mainly concentrated on distinctly sporty saloons, coupes and the unmistakable FX sports crossover SUV, the JX however targets a more conservative and firmly family-oriented segment.

Sporty and swooping

Aimed at financially well-off 40-something family buyers, the Infiniti JX35 offers a combination of bold styling, cabin comfort, luxury and convenience. Squarely pitched against the Audi Q7, the Infiniti JX35 may lack the various drive-line options of the German, but nonetheless features a smooth and capable drive-train and, as well as a nice balance between ride comfort and decent and confident handling.

Well equipped with extensive safety, comfort, convenience and infotainment equipment, the JX35 might not be revolutionary as an overall package, but it is the first production vehicle to offer a backup collision intervention system that detects and actively prevents low-speed reverse collisions.

With sharp angles, Coke-bottle curves and the ability to project a sense of dynamic tension, the Infiniti JX is a distinctively sporty-looking vehicle in a segment not suited for sexy design, but rather tall, wide and conservative design intended to maximise space. With swooping and curvaceous lines associated like its saloon and coupe stable-mates, the Infiniti JX35 has presence, while the finer points of its details and sense of proportion are best viewed in the flesh rather than photos.

A jutting grille flanked by squinting headlights trails off to swooping flanks, while the JX35’s roofline descends to a distinctive D-pillar kink. Athletically styled, the JX35’s sense of forward motion is complemented by its sharp wide lights, low roofline and muscular haunches emphasising a perception of road-hugging width

Smooth and revvy

Featuring Infiniti’s smooth and revvy 3.5-litre V6 as its only engine option mated to a continually variable transmission (CVT), the JX35 gains even greater smoothness in terms of delivery. A lively and long-revving engine with decent low-end torque but a high-end power bias, the JX35’s V6 needs to be worked hard to deliver good performance.

Having to lug a considerable 2004kg mass, the high-rev 3.5 V6 may not initially seem to be the ideal engine for this vehicle, but with the CVT gearbox’ ability to constantly alter transmission ratios it works out well and doesn’t need to continuously downshift or hunt for ratios, as would have been the case here with a conventional automatic.

Dishing out 265hp at 6400rpm and 248lb/ft at 4400rpm, JX35 is well-powered — if somewhat high-revving for its segment — and boasts a good 0-97km/h headling figure of 7.9-seconds, and returns a restrained 11.7l/100km combined fuel consumption rating.

With its decent CVT gearbox the Infiniti JX35 seems to glide through gear ratios rather than slur through as some CVTs do, while one can also opt to use pre-selected ratios that mimic a regular automatic gearbox in manual shit mode, and put in ‘sport’ mode the JX35’s throttle and transmission responses are sharpened.

Refined ride

Designed to fit in Infiniti’s line-up in terms of size, ability, dynamics and concept somewhere triangulated between the sports-car derived FX series, the behemoth and truck-like body-on-frame QX SUV and the compact EX series crossover in terms of capabilities, size and dynamics, the JX35 strikes the best family-oriented combination of traits from all three.

Neither as firm, direct and engaging as the FX nor as soft or large as the QX, the JX35 rides feels reassuringly tight and planted on the highway and through corners, where it feels refined, composed and quiet. With its chassis tuned for a German-like sense of firmly sprung prestige, the JX35 however retains enough suppleness to dispatch bumps, cracks and imperfections well.

Surprisingly sporty for a large family SUV, the JX35 features poised body control through corners and a light, accurate and direct steering set-up, which doesn’t feel noticeably corrupted by its variable ratio electric power assistance. Sharp into corners for its size and weight at modest and brisk speeds, the JX35 can make one forget its height and two-tonne mass.

However, when pushed too eagerly through corners, under-steer will become apparent as its weight becomes apparent, but its attentive electronic stability controls are quick to rein in power and pull it back into line. A smooth long-distance cruiser, the JX35’s reassuring ride and smooth drive-train are complemented by a highly refined cabin ambiance with excellent noise, vibration and harshness suppression.

Family friendly

Comfortable, refined and altogether pleasant, the Infiniti JX35’s cabin is luxurious, well-kitted and spacious, with comfortably cushioned but supportive and adjustable front seats, an intuitive infotainment system, clear instrumentation, adjustable steering and high quality leathers, veneers and soft texture plastics.

Ergonomic and unpretentiously stylish, the JX35’s interior works best with darker tones, with the light cream upper elements and steering best avoided. Featuring a 15-speaker Bose stereo the JX35 also has optional rear DVD screens to keep children entertained, while its three-row seating makes the JX35 versatile and spacious. Second row passengers have split sliding and tilting seats, while the smaller third row can be accessed without removing second row child seats.

Marketed to upper middle class family buyers, the Infiniti JX35 rolls of an impressive list of safety credentials, including the crumple zones, side impact bars, all-round three-point seat belts, and front, side, and roof-mounted curtain airbags.

Featuring around view cameras, the JX35 also features more advanced features to allow one to better position it in relation to obstacles and traffic. Radar and sensor based warning and semi-autonomous standard and optional systems like blind spot and lane departure warning and intervention systems can gently apply selective braking to keep lane, while adaptive cruise control maintains distance from the vehicle in front.

The JX35’s innovative Backup Collision Intervention system is particularly useful given its thick D-pillars, and can detect people or vehicles from behind when reversing and bring the vehicle to a complete stop at low speeds if its warning is ignored.

Technical specifications

Engine: 3.5-litre, transverse, V6-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 95.5 x 81.4mm

Compression: 10.3:1

Valve-train: 24-valve, DOHC

Gearbox: CVT, four-wheel-drive

Gear ratios: 2.371:1 – 0.439:1

Reverse/final drive: 1.766:1/5.173:1

Power, HP (kW): 265 (197) @ 6400rpm

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 248 (336) @ 4400rpm

0-97km/h: 7.9-seconds

Fuel consumption, city/highway/combined: 13/10.2/11.7 litres per 100km

Fuel capacity: 73.8-litres

Height: 1722mm

Width: 1960mm

Length: 4988mm

Wheelbase: 2900mm

Track: 1668mm

Approach/departure angle: 14°/20.6°

Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.34

Head room, 1st/2nd/3rd row: 1033/972/927mm

Legroom, 1st/2nd/3rd row: 1074/1059/782mm

Shoulder room, 1st/2nd/3rd row: 1531/1534/1450mm

Hip room, 1st/2nd/3rd row: 1442/1417/1066mm

Curb weight: 2004kg

Weight distribution F/R: 55/45 per cent

Steering: Speed-sensitive variable assist rack and pinion

Steering ratio: 18.3:1

Turns, lock-to-lock: 3.3

Suspension, F: MacPherson struts, twin tube dampers, 26mm stabiliser bar

Suspension, R: Multi-link, twin tube dampers, 26.5mm stabiliser bar

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs, 320 x 28mm/308 x 16mm

Tyres: 235/65R18